Saturday, December 8, 2012

Mid December

I got our tree up right after Thanksgiving, and the house is all decorated up.  But I needed a new wreath for over the mantel.  I didn't want to spend a fortune, but I found most fake conifer wreaths were too expensive, or looked totally fake.  So I decided to make a ball wreath.

This is the end result:

Last year I'd redone the tree with those wild colors, so when I found mostly wild colored ornaments at Walmart, I decided to forge ahead and use them for the wreath.  One of the things I am pleased about is that it's mostly flat.  So it hugs the wall pretty well.  I actually liked it really well with just the pink, blue, and green larger balls, but some of the holes between the balls were kind of big.  In retrospect it might have been easier to wrap the wire frame in tinsel, or just cut pieces of tinsel and stuff them into the holes.

Change of topic:
Hubby is in Australia until Saturday.  He's been pingponging around between Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne and getting tired and lonely and ready to come home.  It comes down that he's a great traveler, but a lousy tourist.  He needs me for that, I'm a great tourist.
He took this with his photo stitching app

Change of topic:
On Thursday after I dropped the kids off at school, I went to the dentist, then went to TJ Maxx to do a little shopping.  I need some new jeans and until I lose some weight, I refuse to pay more than about $20.  I found a pair that will do, but as I was putting my own jeans back on, I noticed that I could see daylight - I had popped the fabric in the butt.  I have been walking around for HOW LONG, before today, with daylight showing up the butt of my jeans?
I had to go to confess to an employee that I needed to wear the new jeans out of the store.  She took me to the front cash register, where I had to go around behind the counter for them to take the electric alarm tag off the jeans.
My consolation is I was of course sitting down at the dentist's office, it was early so not a lot of people were out and about, and I'm hoping that most people look at my face, not my butt.  Unless they're behind me.  In that case I'm sure the inch of white underwear would draw the eye.  Sigh.

Change of topic:
Ever since we moved into this house I have hated how dark it is at night.  The outside lights we had were like large cans attached to the house, with light directly below them.  They light up a ten foot circle on the porch.  Everything else is in total darkness, including the stairs going up to the front door.  I was waiting for the garage remodel to be done before I dealt with it, because I knew I'd need new lights and would get ones that light up more than the circle below them... but also I put in a landscaping light system that I'd gotten at Home Depot. It was pretty easy to install and I'm really pleased with it.

Change of topic:
Thing 1 has always taken art classes, and I have struggled to find something for Thing 2 to involve herself in.
Well since we moved, the opportunity presented itself.  I got a lead on a really good horseback riding instructor.
She has taken three lessons, and absolutely loves it.  I really love the teacher.  She's this energetic young girl who is also teaching Thing 2 responsibility and independence and stick-with-it-ness more than I ever taught her.  She is so positive... I am so happy we found this teacher!  The only down side is it's a half hour drive out to the lesson, half hour back. And of course when you start riding, you can't practice at home, so she suggests we pay $60 more a month and do a partial lease, which will get us what we get now plus two more chances to ride per month, mostly unattended.  This works best if we can do it the same time as Thing 2's friend, so they can ride together and we can carpool.  Not quite there yet but I expect that's where we'll be.
Here is a little video of one of Thing 2's lesson.  This teacher doesn't need to go to the gym, she gets a great workout with each lesson.

video
Isn't she cute as a button?  

All right that's everything in a nutshell.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Gratitude

From Thing 1's Gratitude Journal

11/14/12

I am grateful for:
 *  Pets that bring me joy
 *  Smarts that help me find the way
 *  A loving family to give me a home
 *  A roof above my head
 *  A warm fire to comfort me
 *  Feet to walk the earth
 *  Eyes to witness the beauty
 *  Hands to hold friends in a hug
 *  A wonderful society
 *  Free agency to choose
 *  A sky filled with wonderful stars


This is the view from our front window the other evening..

 And from the back yard a few minutes later.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

G'Day


Hubby left today for three weeks in Australia.  
I hate it when he goes this long.  And the fact that we're marching toward Christmas doesn't help.  There are several Christmas choir concerts for the kids that he's going to miss, and the church Christmas party.  And two full weekends, and two other half weekends.  He was here today, Saturday, but spent most of the day in somewhat frantic preparation to get on the plane this evening.

We had a lovely Thanksgiving.  My mother actually maintained her calm very well, right up until the end, when first she spilled the gravy thickening. "Did Grandma just swear?" Thing 1 whispered, then quietly disappeared from the kitchen, just missing what happened next. My mother was moving toward the stove with a large pot full of turkey drippings, and somehow knocked the pot on the edge of the range top, sending the drippings into an inexplicable fountain that arched up out of the pot like a gravy tsunami before it came crashing down all over the cooktop and sloshed straight out onto everyone standing in front of the stove.  It mostly splattered on my mother, standing shocked with the now half empty pot, and my husband and brother who were poised to help take the turkey out of the oven, and the rest oozing down all over the front of the stove and onto the floor.  My sister in law was on her knees wiping up the floor and stove front with the dishcloth that always hangs there before I could even close my mouth. I recovered and started throwing hand and dish towels from the drawer next to me across the room at anyone near the stove and they started mopping things up - dishtowels and gravy drippings sizzling on the glass cooktop.  My brother had the sense to turn down the stove top which was glowing volcano red at having all the pots suddenly removed from the surface.  Within just a few minutes everything was mopped up enough to continue, and preparations proceeded and dinner hit the table just about on schedule.
The food was fabulous.  Even the gravy, though four more cans of chicken broth were brought up from the storage room to try and make up for what was lost.

My brother and his family had to leave Thursday night, because my sister in law was hosting 40 some odd people of her side of the family on Friday for their Thanksgiving.  Just as they were leaving my favorite uncle and his family showed up - they ping pong back and forth every year between my mom's house and my aunt's house. This year was my aunt's house, but no matter where they go for Thanksgiving, my uncle's family always come to my mom's for the Black Friday shopping and Thanksgiving part Deux, which is basically a leftover repeat of Thanksgiving part one.  Even Kelso got more Thanksgiving than usual, and he gave the already cleaned stove front and floor a thorough licking before I attacked it one more time with glass cleaner because obviously it hadn't been cleaned thoroughly enough if it attracted the dog.

We went to "the Rise of The Guardians" in what is becoming a traditional Black Friday Kid's Movie Matinee trip, including all the interested adults.  In past years the uninterested adults continued shopping, but this year they got to stay home and take care of my cousin's babies.
We usually stay through until Saturday or Sunday, but because Hubby had so much to do before leaving for Australia, we bundled up and headed home on Friday night.
Today I started putting out Christmas.  I don't have the tree out, but got the girls help to put away Thanksgiving stuff and carry boxes of Christmas stuff upstairs.  Because we were still completely disorganized with moving/remodeling the basement last year, and the year before I was in my refusal to crawl through the eves to get out any more Christmas decorations than were absolutely necessary, some of this stuff hasn't seen the light of day for nearly three years.  And thanks to ebay, I have a mantel on the fireplace now where there was no mantel before, installed last week by my favorite carpenter.  The nutcrackers have a place to sit, and the stockings have a place to hang.

Now all we need is snow.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

When The Dust Settles (revised)

Bullying - continued...

I left the girls with a nice neighbor who has a daughter Thing 1's age, and went to the bullying forum that I heard about from the flyer.  (See previous post.)
I sat there listening to the counselors from our school and a couple other schools in the district talking about bullying and all they training they've had on it and all they've learned about it... the programs they've installed and how they keep it from happening in our schools.  I figured that since mostly what I was saying was "No you Di'ent!" that maybe I better keep my mouth shut.  But I sat there thinking they have no idea what's going on at their own playground, and getting more and more frustrated. I wanted to (and probably should have) stood up and asked how many other parents were there (maybe 20 of us) because their kids were treated badly and they didn't feel it was handled appropriately.  Based on some of the comments I heard I figure I wasn't the only one.  I thought the counselors should have been listening more than talking.
Finally when it was over, I went up and talked to our counselors.  I said "I understand you want to empower the kids by encouraging them to handle a bully on their own (they'd talked about how important this is) but what I'm hearing at home is that the playground is a battleground because the kids think they won't get any support from the adults if they report any bullying behavior, they think they're expected to handle it on their own."  Protestations.  I said "Well, Thing 2 hasn't felt support from the times she's been attacked..."
Blank stares.  Crickets.
They had NO IDEA what I was talking about.
I said "Didn't you get the email I sent you?  Or the reply that I got from the principal?  Last week? ??   ???   I thought the teacher had come and talked to you and you'd said it was odd behavior and let it slide?"
Protestations.  No one had told them.  Yes I did, I sent them emails.  They're sorry, they say.  They have been so busy with all the problems created by the new French Immersion first grade (I've heard about that, the French teacher won't speak English to the parents - they send her emails to address problems their kids are having, and she replies in French.  Yes, Really.)
I ended up getting frustrated all over again, I briefly went through the whole thing, my voice cracked then choked off... One of the counselors had seen the email to me that the boy had been talked to, but she had only seen the first part, hadn't read the whole thing, thought it was about ANOTHER incident with this boy...
I went home, very upset, and Thing 2 heard me talking to Hubby on the phone.  She got upset.  She wrote a very sweet letter outlining a lot of things, some that I hadn't even heard before, which I sent to the counselors, along with a brief letter from me and the original forwarded email I had sent.
They replied back and apologized again, saying Thing 2's letter was wonderful and had a big impact.

Since then they called several times, caught up on the email and apologized that my emails were sitting in the inbox but hadn't been read.  They have contacted me letting me know how they are watching Thing 2 and Danger Boy on the playground (and she has reported this is true) and made a lot of noise about how they're watching and the two kids seem to be playing well together.

I don't know if this kid is going to attack Thing 2 again or not.  He hasn't attacked her since he was spoken to, but he hasn't really left her alone, either.  He is really lonely, I think, so he gravitates toward Thing 2 and these other girls who have been nice to him, despite his behavior toward them.   Thing 2 can't hold a grudge, though he still does stupid things to them; taunts them with outrageous statements and if they don't call him a liar (because it's rude to call someone a liar) then he mocks them for believing the outrageous lie he told.  Whatever.  If it was me I'd tell him to shove off, but she's more flexible and sympathetic, I suppose.

I just want it to be over.  I am not used to being the one with problems like this. We are not boat rockers.  If the boat is rocking we find another boat.  But this time we're kind of stuck.

I am finally ready for winter.  We bought nine trees last month, and stakes to support them.  I question whether we really needed the stakes, but we paid for them and they were delivered with the trees, so it seems silly not to use them.  Hubby helped me plant the trees, but we ran out of time and didn't get them staked.  I got six of them staked a couple weeks ago.  The trees are about as big around as... maybe three of my fingers... if that makes sense.  The stakes are as big around as my forearm.  They're HUGE!  And they're seven feet tall!  I had to dig a hole for each one, then get on a ladder to pound it in with a sledge hammer.  I also planted the three evergreen bushes we bought, and the five Russian Sage plants that the nursery sold me for $3.00 each because they're trying to get rid of everything.  I coiled the hoses, and stripped the trampoline of everything but the support pipes.  Hubby put all the patio furniture underneath the deck a couple weeks ago.  I'm embarrassed to say we are lazy enough to have bought a new little snowblower for the back deck, so I don't have to drag the big Honda up the hill we created by dropping the driveway and around to the back fence and over to the back deck.  I'm also too lazy to shovel the back deck, which is nearly as much square acreage as the front driveway.  Turns out the little new snowblower is about a thousand times better than the big tough Honda that we use on the front driveway.  Last snowstorm Hubby blew the back deck, then dragged the blower around to the front of the house and used it on the front.  The big Honda needs a tune up.

I am just waiting for life to go on.
Waiting for it to snow.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Bullying

Thing 2 has told me that this school is not as on top of the whole bullying situation as our last school.  At the last school, no one messes with anyone or you get sent straight to the principal.  Period.  And you are dealt with accordingly.  I've heard tell of group meetings at that school between the parents and bullied child, and the parents and bullying child, moderated by the principal.

At the new school if someone gets punched in the stomach and Thing 2 says "Why don't you go tell a teacher?  Or the principal?" She is told "No, I don't want to be a crybaby."  If she tells a playground monitor that two kids are going at each other, she is told "They'll work it out." It is just not dealt with.  She is told not to make a big deal about it.
Fine, as long as it's not my kid being bullied.

Before school started she had worried quite a bit about it, saying she didn't want to go back to school.  I started advising her to stand up to anyone who bullies her and yell, "STOP IT!"  I said that will draw attention to you by the adults near by, and make it completely clear who is hassling whom.  And it very well might scare off any bullies.  I got quite passionate about this, and made her practice yelling STOP IT at random times without laughing, which is kind of hard for her, and I'd demonstrate it and yell STOP IT at her and upset the dog, and then we'd both laugh.  And so far so good, she's not had any problems.

About two weeks ago a little boy who used to go to this school but moved away for a year, moved back.  And the teacher sat him next to Thing 2.  We'll call him Danger Boy.   Now Thing 2 feels from experience like this school is tough on new kids.  So she goes out of her way to make Danger Boy feel welcome.  She shows him what to do, where things are, and gives him a cool eraser she had.  She is the self appointed one girl Welcome Wagon.  Imagine her surprise when he sharpens his pencil and then pokes her with it.  "What was that?"  
"Get used to it," she is told.  "I'm going to sit by you all year and you're going to get that a lot."

There was a lot of little stuff, hair pulling, hard pinching, and threats, "I'm going to be your worst nightmare..."  On the playground he doesn't play with the boys, he kind of haunts the girls who play on the equipment, particularly Thing 2 and her friends, one of whom he seems to like, sort of.  We'll call her Cutie Pie.  She and Thing 2 have been getting along really well lately.  Anyway, Thing 2 told me one of the things Danger Boy does on the playground is to spin around, and whomever his gaze fell on last he would launch himself at and knock them down.  One day it was Thing 2, and he knocked her down and rubbed snow in her face.  
That's about the time I finally started hearing about it.
I went in and talked to the teacher.  She was surprised, she hadn't seen any bad behavior in class.  She'd talk to him.  She had already scheduled a meeting with his parents over something else, she'd bring it up then.  I expected he'd be talked to sometime in the next couple of days.

Thing 2's teacher went to talk to the school counselor, who we found out later told her that sounds weird and maybe he's just frustrated from the move.  She encouraged Thing 2's teacher to talk to the teacher who had him the last time he was at school here.  That teacher said it sounded unlike him... so the incident was put off until the conference with the parents, which didn't happen because they had to change schedules.  So ultimately nothing happened.  I found out later that Cutie Pie's mom went and talked to the teacher too, but got the same results we got.
Friday, the day after the conference was supposed to have happened but didn't, Danger Boy came out for recess with a sucker.  "Oh," he told Thing 2 and the girls she plays with, "I'm going to have a sugar rush!" Thing 2's friends see that she was the last one upon whom his gaze fell, and therefore his intended victim.  "Run!"  they tell her.
But she said two things went through her head.  1) surely he's been spoken to about this, and he wouldn't dare attack her after he's just been yelled at for it.  2) I shouldn't back down from bullies, he's being mean and I should stand up to him.   So she did.  He came at her, knocked her down on her back in the wood chips around the playground equipment, then proceeded to shove handfuls of wood chips into her face.  She got them in her ears, and mouth, and hair.  She seemed unclear as to if he held her hands down, or if she fought back so ineffectually but eventually some 5th graders yelled at him and might have approached him but I don't think they had to drag him off of her.  He stopped and stood up.  Thing 2 stood up, shedding wood chips, and stepped into his face and said softly but very seriously "STOP. IT."  then turned and walked away.
She and Cutie Pie waited until recess was about over, then went in and talked to the teacher.  Thing 2 was unable to talk because she was going to cry, but Cutie Pie told their teacher what had happened.  Then the two girls went out to the pick up area, where I was waiting for her.  Thing 2 was very quiet and said she just wanted to go to the car, where she suddenly broke down sobbing and told me what happened.  I got her out of the car and marched back to where the principal was doing crossing guard duty, and told him.  He said he'd just heard about it, but that Thing 2 would "not be placed in that situation again."  I wished later that I'd had the presence of mind to ask how in the world he'd just heard about it...

Later that afternoon I had worked myself into a snit.  I called my sister,  who works as a counselor at an 8th grade center to ask what course I should take.  Do I demand he's suspended?  Expelled?  She said I could demand that he be moved to another class... I asked about taking a restraining order out on him, and she said there are a couple of kids with those in her school, but it's so hard to keep them apart.  Feeling like I had a reasonable demand, I wrote to the principal, the teacher, and on my sister's suggestion, the counselor.  I almost immediately got a reply back from the principal, reminding me he just learned about this...

I emailed Cutie Pie's mom and sent her the letter to keep her up to date.  She said Cutie Pie was really upset and told her all about it.  Then she said she is social with the family of Danger Boy, and she said they'd be horrified to learn what their son had been up to.  We exchanged several emails back and forth, she said Danger Boy had pushed down another friend of the girls in this group, and had kicked her.  It would appear she never told anyone but Cutie Pie's mother.

By the time Monday rolled around I had spent most of my free time fretting over this whole incident.  I had decided to go talk to the teacher, to make sure that Thing 2 was safe at school.  Hubby was in town and went with me.
Now it would certainly seem that the boy and his parents should have been involved long before he was, and I'm surprised the principal wasn't involved sooner as well.  But I really like this teacher, and she explained how she had talked to the counselor and the previous teacher, and was going to talk to the parents but it didn't happen.  Also her email had been down all weekend and she wasn't able to reply to me.  But she said she and the principal were meeting with Danger Boy shortly, and his parents were coming in after school.  Thing 2 and he were now seated at opposite ends of the classroom, and for the next week he would be having indoor recess, and he'd be eating his lunch in the office.  The words "Zero Tolerance" have been bantered about, which I am fine with.

On Tuesday I got a phone call from Danger Boy's father.  He was apologetic, and polite, and embarrassed.  He mostly talked about when Thing 2 had been poked with a pencil, and the wood chip incident.  I didn't feel like it would be appropriate to list every little hurt she'd suffered at the hands of his son, but did indicate she wasn't the only one, and that the mother of the other little girl might be able to tell him what some of the other kids had experienced.  He did indicate that he had told Danger Boy that he could go the whole day without actually touching, let alone hurting, another kid in the class.  I thought that sounded good.
Wednesday I got another email from Cutie Pie's mother indicating that Danger Boy's mother had called her to find out what was going on.  I wish I knew when they had talked, whether it was before or after I'd talked to the father.  Because I think he might have been more apologetic if he knew the extent of it.  Apparently Danger Boy's mom said he'd told her he "bumped into Thing 2 and that she might have gotten some wood chips in her hair."  In other words they were being polite about it, but they seemed to be under the impression that a few little random behaviors were getting totally blown out of proportion.  Thankfully, Cutie Pie's mother said she corrected her pretty strongly, and told her how her daughter was traumatized by watching Danger Boy shove Thing 2 into the wood chips and ram them into her face, and how she'd choked and swallowed a couple.  She reported Danger Boy's mother had been shocked and very upset.  Good for her.

Today coming home from school Thing 2 told me that Danger Boy gave Cutie Pie a necklace, that had an owl on it.  You don't need to have anything more to do with him, I told her.  You don't need to be rude, but you can be nearly rude.  You can avoid him all you want.  
"I know," she told me.
I know it's not in her nature to hold a grudge.  If this little boy wants to play with them, I suspect the little girls will let him.  But I have told her to be on her guard with him, if he threatens her or attacks her at all again, to shout it loudly to the principal, her teacher, or me.  I don't know what they'd do, but they'd better do something.  And with how outrageous his behavior was since the moment he got here, I suspect he won't be able to turn it around overnight.  We'll see.

There was a flyer that came home sometime this week.  The counselors from the elementary school are meeting at the high school for a parent's forum about bullying.  I don't normally have time for evening meetings, but I think I may have to make a special effort to be to this one.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A better year

Whew I'm so far behind!

Last year, the last 18 months, maybe, was so awful.  I knew at the time things were hard, but didn't realize how hard until things got better.
When I say hard, I know on the grand scheme of things, it wasn't that hard. We didn't lose a family member, no one went postal... so many worse things could have happened.  I read a "ScaryMommy" confession page and was frankly horrified at some of the people's confessions, how miserable people are.  I am not that miserable.
 But on the day to day dealing with things scale, things were hard.
Mostly due to the move.  It started with house hunting taking up more and more free days.  Then getting our house on the market.  Then we were getting ready to move.  Moving was a little special slice of hell that I have only recently been able to talk about without tearing up.  But we moved, and school started.
Then we launched into construction.  Which, while I'm not actually doing the construction myself, involved more time and energy from myself than I had anticipated.
I knew changing schools would be hard, but we'd heard great things about the schools up here.  However, the school we left was really wonderful, and it's hard for anything to compare.  We have since learned that in 4th grade, the grade Thing 1 was going into, there's one teacher you want, one teacher you can endure, and two teachers you do not want.  She got the one you can endure.  At a time when she needed more help and support than any other in her life, she got a very firm disciplinarian.  It was a super hard year for her.
And a super hard year for her translated to a really difficult year for me.

But.
Recently things seem to be going better.
We're practically done with construction, the "three week" project that has taken five months might be done before the snow falls... or it might not.   We might be able to get some plants in this fall... or not.  Whatever.  It is moving forward again.

The other day when I was asking Thing 1 how her day went, she said, and I quote, "School was the best part of my day."  This wasn't some horrible day, either.  It was a half school day, she'd had a playdate with a friend she rarely sees, and we'd gone out to dinner.  But she'd just had a really fun day at school.  She loves her teacher, who doesn't believe in loading down the kids with tons of homework THANK YOU!!!
Thing 2 won the 4th grade teacher lottery, and got the teacher that everyone wants. This woman has the kids who tested into the accelerated program.  Thing 2 did not, yet the teacher told me Thing 2 out performs the other kids almost all the time.  She loves Thing 2, and Thing 2 loves her.

The garage is done, both cars fit easily into it, and even with the garage door down there is almost a car and a half length on one side, a little less on the other side because the stairs cut into it.  The construction there was completely worth it.

Finances  haven't been bad.  Every time I've needed money it seems to appear.

It's just a better year.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Bless the German Police

Hubby was in Germany last week, and Sweden the week before that.  He was supposed to return today.
Last night as he was packing up his stuff before he went to bed so he could be ready for his 6:00 am taxi to the airport, he found that he couldn't find his passport.  It was 3:00 pm for me, and I was just getting ready to drive down the canyon to pick up a couple of little girls for a sleepover.
He texted me in shock.
Over the course of our evening of playing, pizza, watching a movie, and getting four little girls arranged on their sleeping bags and figuring out who got which air mattress, I was texting back and forth with Hubby and scouring the internet trying to figure out what to do, which was not much.  He was searching the internet and calling anyone he could get a number for. Since it was about 9:00 pm on a Friday night when he realized it was gone, it was hard to get anyone to even answer their phones. Anyone who did mostly assured him there was nothing they could do, and he should call back at 8:00 am on Monday.  He tore everything he had apart several times, but couldn't find his passport.  It wasn't misplaced, it was gone.
I have his birth certificate and his expired passport and sent him images I'd scanned with my phone, but two days ago my computer died and it's the only one I can get scans from my swell printer off of.  (I'm using one of the many mac laptops we have around the house that Hubby no longer uses).  His birth certificate is a copy of a negative image and I was worried it would be illegible in the phone scan.
It was looking more and more like would be there at least all weekend, and quite possibly until Monday or even Tuesday.

On line all the advice he could find said don't bother coming to the consulate without an appointment, and the first available appointment for passport services was Monday October 8th.  You can put in an emergency request once you already have an appointment, so he made an emergency request on the heels of his October 8th appointment.

Hubby flies so much he's a Delta Unobtainium member, but when he called Delta they said don't even bother going to the airport, there's nothing they could do and his best bet is going to the consulate at 8:00 am on Monday.  Nevertheless he got up super early and took the shuttle to the airport.  He texted me from the shuttle at 6:30 am his time, 11:30 pm my time and I thought he was wasting his time.  But of course I didn't tell him that then.  He said his only hope was someone at the airport could help.  I understand feeling helpless and like you want to do something, even if you're spinning your wheels, it's certainly better than sitting around. He was booked on a 10:15 am flight.

He texted me half an hour later from the Frankfurt airport and said it looks bad.  He was pretty sure he could fly out Monday, though, and people were being super nice and helpful.
He texted me again  half an hour later saying it was looking like he might be able to fly out that day.  He found someone to help him.  "German waiters are notoriously bad at customer service - but the German police at the airport are incredible.  Really helpful."

He also texted that he had a slightly awkward conversation trying to explain to a very nice German policeman where he remembered the name "Patton" from.  heheheheh

But then he sends me a photo of a very official looking document with his picture on it and color shades like you see on passport pages.  I don't think it's a temporary passport, but it is a very official looking document.  He has one more document to sign and then he's going to sprint down to check  his bag
At 1:15 I get a text that he should make his plane, and I think he stopped texting because he didn't want to wake me.
He landed in Atlanta around 2:00 East coast time and called.
He said that the customs people told him they'd never seen a document like what he had before.  I'm amazed they let him through.  Apparently the people who gave him the document said he might have to pay some sort of fine.  He said he was getting very tired of telling the whole story to every official who had to look at his documents, but he didn't have to pay a fine and everyone let him through.
He said the birth certificate and expired passport scans helped a lot, they helped verify he was who he said he was.
He also said he somehow got connected to someone who happened to be answering their phone at 8:00 am in the consulate office, and that person knew someone who worked with the USO or some other military branch... but it seems the people who really got the job done was the German airport police.  I think the document he has was either issued by them or issued because they got someone else to do it.
And so thanks to the very wonderful German police, Hubby was able to make his original flight and come home on schedule.  We'll go pick him up in about five hours.

I had visions of him acting out a scene from Casablanca, wandering the halls of the consulate in black and white, getting shuffled from one bureaucrat to the other, trying to get another stamp or signature on some temporary document, which turns out to be the wrong one.  Hoping to get on that plane....

I'm so glad he's coming home! 


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Flags

Thing 1 was born 11 years ago today.  Someone told her it was her golden birthday.  She turned eleven on the eleventh.

The boy scouts came by last night and put a flag in our yard.   I was momentarily baffled.  I was on the phone with Hubby when they drove up, and he reminded me that the next day, today, was Patriot's Day in addition to being our daughter's birthday.

I commented to Thing 2 that as long as we live in Utah, both girls will get flags in our yard on their birthdays.  "Yeah," she said, "but her's is a bigger deal.  And people don't really remember my birthday.  Everyone remembers hers."
"She doesn't get a parade, though..." I told her.

They had a good day.  I dropped off mini mechanical pencils for her to pass out to her classmates.  The school going "no treats" cramps my style.  I spent quite a bit of time searching the closeout aisle in the office supply store trying to find something I could afford that wouldn't make my kid a pariah of uncoolness.  "Tape?  You passed out rolls of scotch tape on your birthday?"  I felt I'd scored with the brightly decorated mini mechanicals, and Thing 1 reported later everyone thought they were great.

I offered to take the girls to the State Fair, after school, but Thing 1 opted to come home and do her homework and just hang out here, and have pizza and a movie night instead.  Maybe we'll go to the fair on Friday.

She went to bed happy.  

Saturday, August 11, 2012

July is history, and we're marching through August

The suggestion I heard about writing down on the calendar what we did each day is proving beneficial.  For me, more so than for the girls.  I feel like I've been totally busy and it's nice to know why.  


It took me an extra week to get the new garage door.  I PAID for the garage door toward the middle of June, and was told it would take two weeks.  Two weeks later I got a call for final measurements, not to schedule an installation.  Two more weeks, I was told.  When those two weeks came and went I started calling, and was told it was scheduled to be delivered to their offices the last part of July, and could be installed some time after that.
The installation was scheduled for last week.  The garage door guy came and told me the opening of my garage door was screwy, the cement foundation is in the way of the track, and there's a trim piece missing on my wall that will be easier to install before the door goes up.  I called the contractor, who came over and ended up being kind of nasty to the garage door guy.  He said he had deliberately not installed the trim piece, would do that after to give them wiggle room on the door.  He insisted there was enough room on the cement foundation to lay the tracks for the door.  He called into question the installer's experience.  Repeatedly.  With increasing volume and vehemence.  It started getting a little tense.  The garage door guy insisted he couldn't install the door until he had his boss's approval of the opening.  The contractor told him to stop giving us excuses and either install the door or go away.  He left.  I asked the contractor what was eating him and he again insisted everything was fine with the wall, the guy should just put up the door.  Anything that was wrong could have been fixed while he was unloading.  Whatever.


The middle of the next week the manager himself came and installed the garage door.  I apologized for my cantankerous contractor, who was there when the installer guy got there but left.  The garage door went up and it is beautiful!  There is so much light now in the garage! !
  And the windows are so pretty! 
Other than that, we've been having a good summer.

We saw the fireworks on July 3rd at Bountiful.  They were amazing!  We've gone every year since we moved back here, they're great!
Thing 2 was invited to walk in the local 4th of July parade with the other Spelling Bee participants.  We ended up on the wrong side of the street, but she had a lot of fun and we learned how to go to the parade:  
1) don't bother with the boy scout pancake breakfast - eat before you go, or bring something to eat there.
2) arrive early, and stake out your spot for the parade. If you bought tickets to the breakfast (See #1), unless you get there super early, chances are you won't want to fight the crowd anyway. 
We ended up sitting behind someone else, with people kind of pushing by behind us through the parade.  It was fine, but next time we'll do it different.
 
One of the highlights of the summer was being invited to my brother's wife's family lake lot.  We got to ride in the boat, the girls got to ride the tube, 

and we all went wake surfing.  My oldest niece can get up on the surfboard with someone else in front of her, she took Thing 1 and 2.  It was fabulous!    Look at that smile!
It was too windy to get any good skiing in, but we did do a little sailing.  My brother and I took out my two girls and his youngest, and they got to hang out on the trapezes, and ride the pontoons.  Not a really strong wind, but perfect for three little girls who don't need a really wild ride to have a ball.  I didn't get any pictures, though.  The only down sides of the day were 1) Hubby was out of town 2) Thing 1 got sunburned.  I swear I put on sunscreen repeatedly, but the tops of her legs got kind of fried.  So the next day when we were going to go horseback riding, she would whimper when I tried to rub lotion on her, and I figured she was too uncomfortable to go riding.  So she had to stay home.  Thing 2 had a marvelous time, though, we went on a trail up the mountain and went for longer than we normally have before.
Thing 2 had a summer camp, catching frogs and bugs and lots of activities, she had a ball.  It was run by our favorite babysitter, who has been living in Hubby's office for the summer, to be closer to this eco center where the camp was held.  Thing 1 has a robotics camp there next week.
She had a pop-up book class this week that went pretty well.
One of the neighborhood moms has set up a schedule of things for the moms and kids to do once a week.  We made it to a couple, not a lot of people come but that's fine with me because I feel it gives my girls more face time with the kids who are there.  And I like the mom who arranged it and enjoy talking with her.  One that was a big hit was the Hill Air Museum.  I thought the girls might find it less interesting, but they loved it.  I enjoyed seeing some of the planes I used to work with.

We've been driving down to my brother's house (30 minutes away) for swimming lessons from one of my nieces, because their pool is salt water and doesn't turn Thing 2's hair green, and the girls get the bonus of being able to play with their favorite person in the world, their cousin who is right between them in age.  They've been taking Spanish lessons from my cousin, but she's moving to Spain in a week so we had to stop the lessons.  I'm sad the Spanish lessons are over, but it will make it easier to have that one day a week back to ourselves.
Still two and a half weeks left of summer, but I wanted to catch up.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Sleeping Buddies

Thing 1 became attached to a stuffed Eeyore beanie baby when she was little.  She slept with it until it became sad looking and abused, very Velveteen Rabbit real.  She has since adopted other special stuffed animals.  Not every one that passes through her hands makes the cut, but enough do that she has a sizable pile that sit on the top bunk who are possible sleeping companions.
In order to not offend anyone, Thing 1 started keeping track in a little log she drew up and kept by her bed.  She listed the name of each stuffed animal and gave it a tick mark on the grid each night she slept with it.  She faithfully noted and rotated and the stuffed animals for a couple of years.

I haven't seen the log lately, and she seems to be choosing her sleeping companions based on the mood of the evening.

Thing 2 goes in phases.  She picks an animal and sleeps almost exclusively with it and only it for a couple of months.  For a long time now it has been Princess, a stuffed horse my sister gave her when she turned two. Horses have always held a special place in her heart, and I think she feels the largeness of the stuffed horse provides a sort of barrier between her and any intruders who might pose a threat to her at night.


Monday, July 9, 2012

June is in the bag

It's hard to draw a good line between keeping the kids from getting bored, and letting them have enough time to goof off.  If I totally let them go, they end up feeling their summer is wasted.  If I schedule and monitor them, they haven't had enough free time and are mad that they didn't get to relax.

I was going to write down what we did each day, so I can wave it in their faces when the tears come for "Back To School" night that "The whole summer is GONE and I didn't do ANYTHING!!!"  I haven't kept up with this, either.


I vowed we'd go through the multiplication and division flash cards every weekday morning.  We started really well, but have been slacking off.  In fact, I should break to go do that this minute...

There are two weeks in the middle of June that I can't exactly account for...  I do remember that we met with the weekly playgroup at Chuckee Cheese, just my girls and the girls of the mother who's been arranging things, all of whom I like, so I was fine it worked out that way.  We spent a weekend at my mother's while Hubby had a conference, and celebrated Father's Day at my brother's with a big pool party.  Between Spanish lessons (see below) and birthday parties for their four summer born daughters we've spent quite a bit of time at my brother's, often playing in their pool.  The real bonus here is it doesn't use chlorine in the filter and so it doesn't turn the girls' hair into straw.

The first week of July was pretty busy.  My cousin is teaching the girls and their two cousins Spanish on Mondays at my brother's house (it's roughly halfway between her house and my house), and my mother arranged to take all the girls who could go to the new Natural History Museum.  So after Spanish we went over to the museum, and had a nice time looking around there.  Thing 1 got very excited and wants to make some Native American crafts of her own.  Then we met the dads (my brother and Hubby) at the Old Spaghetti factory for dinner.  
Tuesday was fireworks!  My brother lives right by some of the best fireworks in the valley, and walking from his house means we can avoid parking and traffic nightmare.  He hosts a party in his back yard, which is a little hard for the girls since all the other participants are neighbors, and they all know each other.  But it all turned out okay when the cherished cousin came and snuggled between them to watch the fireworks.
Wednesday was the 4th of July parade.  Thing 2 got to walk down main street with the other spellers from the spelling bee.  It was a busy day, and Thing 2 had a great time waving to people and spelling out words like "PARADE!" that they'd shout at her.  The only problem came when Hubby's cell phone died after he walked to the end of the parade to meet Thing 2 while I stayed with Thing 1 and watched the parade, we hadn't made plans on where to meet, and I ended up walking to the end of the parade where I thought he'd be while he walked back up to the top of the street where we'd been...  Finally he stopped in a boutique and borrowed their phone to call me.
Thursday... Hubby fixed the mower and mowed the lawn.
Friday we went to a matinee.  Tomorrow my folks will come down and we'll celebrate Hubby's birthday.  We celebrated Father's Day last Saturday by having breakfast downtown, then going to Costco where Hubby picked out a bigger TV that will just fit the space in the redone basement. I hadn't really planned that, but kind of half expected it.  So his father's day and birthday presents are combined.  I feel it's fair that I can fall back on electronics for presents for him, since he's so hard to shop for, and he falls back on jewelry for me.  And he doesn't just buy department store jewelry... he buys jewelry store jewelry.  The really nice stuff.  Not that I am complaining, it's just that I can never match him for dollars spent, the best I can do is something like this, let him buy a major electrical whatever for the house and tell him it's his.  But I feel like it's cheating because we all use it.  Not like the jewelry he buys me, which I don't share.


And while it's just a boring recounting of last week, it is an entry, and I'm looking to rack up accomplishments, so there's one.  Boring yes, but done?  YES!!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Palazzo VS Caesar

I have not scheduled the girls for much this summer.  This is pretty normal for us.  But I do not want this summer to slip by and have them look at me all sad and whiny come September and have them say "But we didn't DO ANYTHING all SUMMER!!!"
Last summer, with Thing 2's broken arm, and our selling the house and moving, it was what Judy Moody would call a total bummer summer.  But this year I am willing to expend a little energy to try and keep it from being bummer-ish.

The first week after school was out we went to Vegas.  Hubby has had a conference in Vegas nearly the same week for several years.  We've skipped it once or twice in order for the girls to attend the "end of year festival" at school, but this year they bumped the conference to the week after school let out, so we were able to attend both the end of year festival at our old school, and the Vegas conference.
We have been to Las Vegas several times now, know our way around the area we stay in, and have gotten to enjoy Vegas.  The girls and I sleep in, lounge by the pool, wander the hotels and the area and laze around the hotel room.  When the conference is done for the day and Hubby comes back we wander around the hotels or the shops and find somewhere to eat.  Each trip we take the girls to one show - The Mystere Cirque du Soleil show one year, the Jousting Knights in shining armor dinner one year...  There might have been a couple years the girls were just too little to take anywhere... I have a memory of carrying a sleeping girl on my back all the way back to the hotel from the movie theater on the opposite end of Las Vegas Avenue.

The conference has always been held at the Palazzo hotel.  I have developed a deep love for the Palazzo.  Because:
1)  I like the Venetian hotel canal and shops, which connect the two hotels.  (not that I could ever in my wildest dreams afford anything there, it's just a nice place to walk)
2)  Denny's is right on the other side of the Venetian.
3)  There is a nice mall kitty-corner across from the Palazzo.
4)  The room is massive - a large TV in the bathroom, one at the foot of the two queen beds, and one in the adjoining sunken living room with the sectional sofa and huge coffee table.  That's right, THREE TVs.  Large ones.  The room was so much bigger and more spacious than our cute little 100 year old house, it was a real change for us.  The girls could spend an hour just jumping from the coffee table, to the couch, to the short wall room divider (covered with marble and about three feet tall), to the first bed, to the 2nd bed... and back again.  (Not that I would ever condone jumping around on the furniture like wild Indians... but...  If it keeps them happy while I can cruise the internet for a while, I'm inclined to overlook a lot of normally marginal behavior.)
This is a picture off the internet of the Palazzo hotel room.  Looking from the beds into the living room area.  It is a mirror image room of the next picture, but it's like the ones we've stayed in before.
 This is looking from the other direction.  Note the terribly handy benches at the foot of the beds.
 The bathroom was bigger than my TV room at our old house.  The huge tub and shower are off to your left out of the picture.  The door in the middle goes to the toilet.
I realize the "ooh poor me I used to be able to stay in the lap of luxury shown here" angle is pretty weak... but this is as much a diary as a blog, so there it is.
5)  The rooms on one side of the Palazzo overlook the Treasure Island hotel, where the pirate ship battle goes on every half hour or so.  The last time we stayed at the Palazzo, we had a great view of the pirate battle.  We watched it several times, the girls in their pajamas sitting on the window ledge looking out over the city.
6)  There was a little mini-market right near the elevators at ground level.  It was ridiculously overpriced, but I could get some fruit or a bagel or a cup of cereal and a container of milk.  It was workable.


So.  We loved the Palazzo.


However we learned that our love for the Palazzo will have to go unrequited.  Because the conference has moved to Caesar's Palace two years ago, and due to some financial kerfuffle and lots of shouting and hurt feelings (on the part of the conference management that Hubby talked to) they won't be going back.


Ceasar's Palace is great.
But it isn't the Palazzo.
There wasn't a sunken living room.  There wasn't sprawl out seating, there was one little sofa, and two rather small arm chairs.  The bathroom was big, but not as big.  Denny's was a longer walk away.  The pool was closer, but the big padded couches right in front of the pool were all reserved and you get chased off by the drink girls in the skimpy costumes if you sit on them without checking with the cabana boys first.  The walk from our room to ANYWHERE was about seven minutes or longer.  There was no market, nowhere to buy any little things you'd forgotten, or a piece of fruit.  The closest food I found was a little food court. Breakfast selections were extremely limited.  But it was the most likely thing I could find without leaving the hotel, or having to sit down and have a formal breakfast. To get there I had to go down the elevators, by the pool, cut through a corner of the casino, though the hall by some shops, past a reproduction of the David, past three or very pricey restaurants, cut through another corner of the casino, and up a ramp.  Then, back, with my arms full of paper bags and a cardboard drink caddy of juices.
The first night we couldn't find a good restaurant and it was getting late, so we broke down and went back to the hotel room and ordered room service for the girls.  YIKES!!!  Won't be doing that again!
While I took care of the room service order and waited with the girls for it to come, Hubby went out roaming to find some food for me and himself.  He picked up a take out salad for me, and a burger for himself, and returned about the time the girls were wrapping up their meal.  He forgot to get me a fork.  He nearly cried.  Lucky for him, I had noticed that there was a very very limited Starbucks not too far from the elevators, and I ran down and got one.  Though of course I could have just used the room service fork... Didn't think about that until I was already back.
Too much detail.  Sorry.  This is what a $73 room service meal looks like.
We still had a lovely time, spent a lot more time at the pool than we usually do during our Vegas vacations, but I brought a lot of sunscreen, and like usual, only sunburned myself. We took the girls to the Blue Man show, they absolutely loved it.
We watched the Bellagio fountain, which we hadn't seen before.  We even waited through the break in between to see a couple of the fountain shows.


We spent quite a bit of time at the pool.

We had to walk around the Venetian to get the Blue Man tickets.


 

Of course one of the big things about Vegas is the food.  This is one of my problems with Vegas.  There is often good food, but so much more than you really want, and you pay so much for it than you'd expect.  That's why the girls and I often sneak off to Denny's for some regular food.  But you get what you pay for, I suppose.  This was my lunch at Denny's.  I swear this was the plate I was handed.  Just like this.
Compare that to breakfast I had at my new favorite Vegas eatery, Hash House a Go Go.  This is some sort of chicken eggs benedict, just as it was handed to me. It might not look like the overwhelmingly delicious dish it was, but it was Absolutely Divine. My only frustration was that we'd eaten at the Cheesecake Factory the night before and I was still mostly full from that. I didn't get to eat much of this wonderful delicacy before I was just ready to pop.
  We stopped at the Hoover Dam on the way out of Vegas.  It was pretty interesting.  We hung out in the Dam snack store and had some Dam ice cream before we left because it was so darned hot.  We looked at buying a Dam tee-shirt in the Dam gift shop, but couldn't find any we liked.  Hubby showed Thing 2 the bottom of the Dam "DON'T LET GO OF ME DADDY!!!"  Thing 1 backed away quick when she saw him turn to her with that big smile on his face.
Then we got back on the Dam road and headed home. 

Of course anyone who's read all the Percy Jackson novels (like we have) knows these Dam angels are just hanging out until they can fly off to San Francisco to party with some angel statues there... I forget exactly where.

We had a darned fine time.
 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

School's out, and We Have Dirt!

Last night we attended the "end of school" festival from our old school.  Stupid me took no pictures.  Thing 2 was just totally excited for the festival, but Thing 1 was a little worried that she'd be sad to see her old friends.  When we got there, the kids ran off and played and talked to all their old friends.  I saw all my old friends, and surprised myself by launching into my own melancholy.  The girls had a great time, and I enjoyed seeing everyone, but it was sad to see how much of a life we gave up to move here.  Having spent ten years down there, very heavily involved in the school, and church, there were lots of people I left behind too.  You don't realize what you're losing until it's lost.  Sigh.

Today I showed up to pick up the girls from their last day of school to find every parking space full, and cars all along the road in all directions.  I've never seen it so crowded!  What am I missing?  What is it all the other parents know is going on that I don't?
They have a tradition at the school to "clap out" the fifth graders, who are going on to the 6-7 grade school next year.  All the other kids and teachers line up and the outgoing fifth graders, dressed in wild wigs and apparently the most colorful, outrageous clothing they could find, run between the clappers.  It was kind of cute, I wish I had taken my phone so I'd have a picture.


The girls wanted to do something special after school.  I agreed to take them out for pizza for dinner, which has recently been redecided to just go get a pizza and come back and eat in front of a movie on the TV.  That's our idea of a celebration.  One woman I was standing with said she's going to take her kids to the amusement park, about an hour away.  Oooh, good idea!  Wish I'd thought of that!  Hmmm, not too excited about going, though, and the girls wouldn't want to go without Hubby.


SO glad school's out, this has been a really hard year for Thing 1.  Thing 2 is planning on having twice as much fun as normal, to make up for having a broken arm/no fun last year.

Instead of starting a new post, I'm just going to throw in some pictures of the garage deconstruction.
In order to take some of the slope off the horribly sloped driveway, we're digging down to lower the garage floor, then will slope it out to the road.  The cement was horribly pocked and pitted and needed to go anyway.  As soon as they took off the cement in the garage, they hit very hard rock that had to be jackhammered out.  A one day scoop job turned into a week of jackhammering and dragging rocks out.  You can see the lowered garage floor under the garage door.


The funny thing is that Hubby and I simultaneously and independently both came to the conclusion that we can use the rocks pulled out of the garage to build a rock wall in front of the house, to the right, to make a place to put some trees.  The excavator, a very nice little retired guy who's been finding every way he can to save us money, said he's built a couple of rock walls and will be happy to put the rocks aside, then move them over where we want to, and put the dirt on top of it.  The rock wall will be off to the right.
We just finish the basement and moved to the garage, before the basement even stopped smelling like new paint.  We must be gluttons for punishment.  My bank account is totally crippled.  I'm so looking forward to this being all over with.  The kitchen, which we knew when we moved in needed to be remodeled, is probably pushed back five years.  Sigh. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Photo stalker

We went downtown for Hubby to see Thing 1's art at the exhibit.
We were walking toward the gallery, and I happened to turn around and see a very old little man on the street motioning in our general direction.  Some people were coming the other way, and I thought surely he's with them.  We walked a little farther, and I noticed he was still following us, with a little smile on his face, and he motioned to me again.  He seemed pretty harmless so I went back and talked to him.

Turns out he lived just up the street, and saw us and thought we were a cute family.  He offered to take our picture. I think people in town see so many out of towners, they have been conditioned to be "tourist friendly."  


I let him take a picture of us with my phone.
Several people we talked to that evening talked to us like we were tourists, we quickly learned to smile and nod and accept their hospitality, and not tell them we are actually locals unless they asked specifically where we were from. 


In any event I got a picture of myself out of it, since I'm usually the one behind the camera, and consider myself less photogenic than the rest of my cute family, it is kind of rare.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Everyday Art

Thing 1 has been taking an art class after school this year.  With the decrease in art on a regular basis from our last school to this one, the after school art program has been a life saver.  The class meets at the school, Thing 1 just stays late once a week for it.  The teacher loves her.  One of my favorite days was when they had done a shaded pencil drawing.  I came in to pick up Thing 1 and was standing over her admiring her work after everyone else had gone.  The teacher agreed with me that Thing 1's picture was amazing, then picked up her drawing and invited me to come over to the board where she had already posted the other kid's drawings.  She held it up to show me the whole group.  The difference in skill level was not subtle at all.  Thing 1 was obviously years ahead in this area.  What I thought was funny was how the teacher didn't say anything at all negative about the other kid's drawings, or point out how much more advanced Thing 1's looked... she just watched my face with this cute little smile, wanting to see it register with me the comparative difference in Thing 1's picture.   Of course we LOVE the teacher too.  She seems very equal in  her praise for all the kids' stuff, but it seems the class in general recognizes that Thing 1 has a knack for it.
The teacher is affiliated with a very prestigious art center and gallery in town.  She told the kids that two of their projects, a vase and a chair painting, would be considered for the kid's art show at the gallery.


Thing 1 was thrilled when it was announced that both of her projects were chosen.  Only three of each of the two projects were accepted from her school, and Thing 1 was the only one who had both of hers accepted.

My folks came down to see the opening last month.


Thing 1's vase was one of my favorite things she's done with the program.

 

She was really proud of how she'd made the tendrils come up around the vase, how it looked kind of like it was growing. It had really annoyed her that a couple other kids saw what she was doing and started to copy her, with their own snaky parts winding up the side of the vase.  When I was picking her up that day, she had to stop and write a little circled C copywrite symbol on the bottom.
Her chair picture was a "book chair." 



It was a really exciting afternoon for her. They treated the kids like professional artists. One of the museum staff came around and interviewed her on camera.   The exhibit was called "Everyday Art," and in the interview Thing 1 talked in a kind of formal "interview" voice and explained how she sees art in objects that she uses every day.  She must have said "Every Day" eight times.  It was so cute to see her a little flustered but totally excited and proud of herself.

I sure hope some day she has an exhibit of her own in a gallery somewhere.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Moms

We celebrated Mother's Day for my mom at my brother and sister-in-law's house on Saturday.  My whole family was there, my sister and her husband came down, and my nieces were all there.  It was lovely.It was the first day they'd had their pool open in their new house.  The three youngest girls - my two and my brother's youngest - did not get out of the pool except to eat, and then when we FORCED them because Grandma was opening her presents.  After the party ended, and my SIL let our girls join her youngest for hot bath in the big master tub, and then a demonstration of my brother's 3D home movie theater system (it really is better than in the public movie theater,) and a half hour drive home, it was 11:00 pm before we got the kids to bed.
Hubby had a plane to catch on Sunday morning, and had to leave at 8:30 a.m.  So breakfast was a lovely if rather quick celebration.  Everyone gave me their presents - the girls had made all of theirs this year, precluding Hubby's need to take them on a quick Saturday afternoon shopping trip that we wouldn't have had time for anyway.  And I must say the girls did a LOVELY job.  Hubby really excels in the gift giving department, though he just can't seem to avoid the jewelry stores, despite my firm lecture of "We're remodeling the house, and you brought me back that incredible fish necklace from Australia, so we just can't afford for you to blow a big wad on for me on Mother's Day, so DON'T DO IT!"
Can you believe this?  I'm complaining about getting too much jewelry for Mother's Day.    
Anyway, Hubby sprinted out the door, and I sprinted to get the girls ready for Church ("Please please please can't we skip it?  We're tired, we're so tired, and I think my stomach feels weird.  Yeah, I'm sure it does. There's something weird going on down there.  I think it's my stomach.  Please please please? No?  Did I tell you I have a toothache, too?") and we made it on time.
Both girls promptly fell asleep, one laying across my lap, one gripping my arm.
In the middle of the meeting I had to wake them up to go up to the front to sing with the rest of the kids.  Thing 2 was a little disoriented and kept trying to go the wrong way until I bodily turned her around and pointed to all the rest of the kids in the church lined up in front.  Thing 1 started whimpering and saying "I don't WANT to!" and I whispered to her in my best hushed but serious whisper; "You mean to tell me Every Other Child in this church loves their mother enough to go up there and sing to her, but you're the Only One who is refusing, and is sitting down here in the congregation?  The Only One not singing to their Mother?"  Yes.  I used guilt. I feel guilty for using guilt...  She harrumphed and started dramatically trying to get around me between the pews, refused to climb over my legs to get to the aisle, so I stood up and helped her sidle by, completely embarrassing her, as anything that draws attention to her at all embarrasses her. 

They sang. I could barely see my kids' heads between the other kids, and I don't know how much Thing 1 actually sang... but they were up there.  I was minorly frustrated that it took so much manipulation on my part.  
I sat in the congregation listening.
Based on my brief blog research, what most mothers, including myself, would really like for Mother's day can be summarized into two categories - 
1) pretending (ironically) that you don't have kids for one day (aka doing a lot of uninterrupted sleeping), and/or 
2) having no battles with the kids, either between the kids themselves or with you and the kids.
My kids rarely fight, and they don't often fight with me... much.  But the sleep thing... that I could have gotten into.  But alas, alack, I knew it was not in the cards for me.
I got a little teary.  It was very sweet.  I heard the woman on the other side behind me sniffling.  Then I started crying.  Not totally sure why.  The embarrassing thing is when it didn't stop after my eyes kind of welled up and I sat there thinking why in the world am I doing this?  Do I wipe my eyes, the gesture of which brings attention to the fact that I'm crying?  Or do I just sit there letting the tears roll down my face and hope my shirt doesn't get wet?  And of course you can't sniffle because then everyone for five pews knows you're crying... but if I don't sniffle and my nose backs up and becomes a huge problem...   Then my face got red, and I started wondering if this is a hot flash.  I haven't really started getting hot flashes yet, but I think they must feel something like this.


By the time the kids were done singing and they came back down, my face must have been Stop sign red, I had tears running down my face, and I couldn't find any Kleenex in my church bag.  Thing 2 looked me in the face and asked a couple times if I was all right.  Fine, fine, that was just sweet.  They both snuggled up to me again and fell back to sleep.  I regained control.  The meeting ended.
I let myself be talked into going home, and skipping the two other meetings. They were obviously tired, and I was too.


The skipping church bargain was that when we got home and they'd changed clothes, they had to nap until church would be over.
Thing 1 slept until well after the prescribed time, Thing 2 slept about 20 minutes then came in and laid next to me whining that she wasn't tired.  After shushing her unsuccessfully for a while as she was keeping me awake I told her to quietly play the iPad until her sister woke up.

Then because Thing 1 hadn't read the biography she was supposed to have completed by Monday I read it to her. She hadn't read it for the past two weeks because she'd been able to tell in the two pages she had read that there was a noticeable lack of magic in the book (rendering it totally uninteresting).  It really is a great biography about Wilbur and Orville Wright, which is why I chose it, and it took me two hours to read it to her.  She loved it, as I expected.


She was pretty stoked by the time we were done, I think she wanted to try out a few flying ideas in the back yard.  I was pretty tired.  
Then because Thing 2 is in the district spelling bee on Thursday and only got the words last week, I spent about 10 minutes guilting her into letting me help her spell some of the words on the list.  We worked on that for about an hour.


We read with Hubby on Skype, I ordered a pizza to be delivered, I watched part of a movie with the girls, then sent them to bed.


Mother's Day is fine, it's often nice, but it's rarely all it's cracked up to be.  Expectations are too high, the kids try so hard to give you a wonderful day but so many other things get in the way.


They looked so cute I forced them to pose in the back yard.


Because their gifts were really nice hand made treasures, I feel compelled to take pictures.


Thing 1 made this plaque in school. 


 Thing 2 made a magnet.

They both made a fused glass thing at the school arts festival.  It was an optional craft, neither one wanted to do it, but I reminded them repeatedly that mother's day was coming up and I like glass and THEY HAD BETTER GET OVER THERE AND MAKE ONE.  So I got these!  They're not huge and I'm not sure what to do with them... make them into necklaces, or hang them in the window... not sure.  But they're neat, and the kids were pretty excited to give them to me.  Which is even neater.

Thus ends Mother's Day for another year.